Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Is there a thin genetic line between happiness and depression?

This article is about how genetics could play a role in mental illness but not in the way you might think. Trying to figure out the genetic and cognitive causes of mental illness' in detail has always been a problem without a solution. It turns out, through comparing different individuals with a common "mental illness gene", They have seen a variety of outcomes depending on their environment. Their final conclusion was that there is no gene that directly correlates to mental illness, in a yes or no manner. On the other hand, there are genes that can affect how susceptible someone is to the stressors in an environment. I believe that this is a good starting point but when handling something as mental illness, that has had several definitions over time, there needs to be a lot of data to make a solid point in either direction.


Mental Illness

Can We Build The Perfect Human?

Individuals have been presented with information from scientists that technology and healthcare can take us places we have never come close to going before! 

This can include chips in the brain to improve an individuals ability to think and transfusing synthetic blood. These things have the potential to make individuals live significantly longer, be able to run, jump, and talk much faster and more effectively. This study even included ways to edit genes to protect babies from disease. The researchers show a paralyzed man who received a chip inside of his brain which transmits his thoughts to his hand muscles bypassing the spinal cord injury he faced. I believe this is a fascinating topic and that we should be moving forward and being the best we can possibly be, since science and technology is progressing at such great speeds! I cannot wait to hear more on this in the future. 

Don't play Russian roulette with your cattle genetics

Original Article

Further Information

This article discusses the challenges ranchers face with the purchase of a new stud bull. For years ranchers would rely on a simple eye evaluation of how well the bull will perform and the quality of the calves he will produce. In today's day and age this is very unreliable, but many stubborn ranchers refuse to acknowledge the science. A simple eye test can not give accurate knowledge of a bull’s prefrocme, mutations it may have, diseases it may carry, or other effects it may have on the herd. Today many bull breeders will provide a EPD, expected progeny difference, which is based on genetic tests and past performance during mating. The EPD test for fertility, and diseases such as bovine viral diarrhea. The EPD looks at past performance by studying birth weight of calves, sex ratios, weaning weight, and overall size of the cattle after 2 years. This being said, EPDs will change as the bull matures and proves himself as a valuable stud, it still allows the rancher a much needed idea of potential performance, back by genetics.

A simple eye up can not tell someone what a genetics test can so why do ranchers continue to do so, with each untested bull they gamble with the fate of their herd.

Tags: Bulls, Cows, Cow Breeding, Cattle Ranching

Cardiac Muscle Grown On Spinach Leaves

Considering we can’t live without our hearts, scientists have been experimenting for a very long time how to solve the major bio-engineering problem blocking the regeneration on human tissues and organs.

A group of scientists took out all of the cellular material from the spinach leaves which just left the structure that keeps the cells in place. Then, you have a very thin, flat piece of tissue that already has a vascular network. So in theory, they should be able to stack up multiple leaves and create a piece of cardiac tissue. The major limiting factor for past attempts of solutions to this is lack of vascular network. Techniques alone cannot fabricate microvasculature the way the body needs it (in humans). So the plan is to use the vascular system in spinach leaves to provide the cells that are grown on the leaf nutrients and oxygen. Cardiac muscle is grown on the leaves, which then can be profused with a blood source by the veins inside of the leaf.
I think that everything about this research is absolutely amazing. When you think of a model organism in genetics, it really doesn’t get any better than an abundant plant! Of course plants are different biologically from humans, but the only thing that matters in this case is the vascular network, which the spinach leaves have. If they are successful with this research, it will be very cost effective, ethically sound, and rather quick to create.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dog genes give insight into human brain tumors

This article is about how there might be a way to figure out more about a Glioma (brain tumor) by looking at breeds of dogs that can also be affected by the same tumors. Through the research time and energy, a possible common link between humans, dogs, and Gliomas are three genes. These three specific genes are CAMKK2, P2RX7, and DENR. With each of these having a different purpose including growth and arrangement of neurons, cell death and inflammation, and being associated with several other cancers. I believe this is a step in the right direction and it's clear that this is not going to be the end of the research.


Study finds Brain Tumor Associated with Genetic Error

Just in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people suffer from brain tumors. More than 20% of these cases are malignant tumors that spread quickly and result in a very low patient survival rate, amongst the 34 percentile. A study done by international researchers from the United Kingdom, United States, and other European countries have identified 13 new genetic errors that correlate with high risk of glioma, a type of brain tumor that arises from the glial cells. This type of brain tumor causes 13,000 deaths per year alone, however little is known about what factors contribute to contracting a glioma. The test was run with thousands of patients diagnosed with these brain tumors and thousands of healthy, glioma-free patients as the control group. The study shows that these genetic errors impact various cell functions, including the genesis and division of neurons, cell cycle regulation, DNA repair, and the production of some proteins which all contribute to the generation of theses tumors inside the brain.

This study has proven to give researchers and doctors a greater understanding of how glioma tumors form. With more research these scientist will be able to find even more genetic strands that affect a person's chances. Understanding more about gliomas gives insight about ways of identifying people at high inherited risk and will open up a search for new treatments. The number of genetic variants identified after this research was 13, with new research being conducted, this number has doubled.

Tags: Brain tumor, cancer, genetic linkage, cell growth

Genetic Structure of Avian Influenza Viruses from Ducks of the Atlantic Flyway of North America

Original Article

Further Information

Ducks, like most wild avian species are hosts to a pool of influenza A viruses. Even though scientists have a growing number of avian influenza virus (AIV) genome sequences, their understanding of the genetic structure and transmission in waterfowl in North America is still limited. The Atlantic flyway, located on the eastern shore of the United States, is lacking on knowledge about AIV. To further their knowledge, scientists analyzed 109 AIV genome sequences from waterfowl from the Atlantic flyway to determine their genetic structure, observe gene flow compared to other birds in various locations along the flyway.. The experiment included 25 AIVs from ducks gathered in Newfoundland, Canada, and 84 duck AIVs dispersed throughout Atlantic flyway. High amounts of diversity of viral genes and genomes were identified in the 109 samples tested. Transmission between continents were very small, roughly 2%, while the rate of transmission between North American flyways is much more abundant, roughly 75% of the genes could be linked to genes found in the other three North American flyways, namely the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways.

The take home message of this article is that AIV, like most avian viruses, are spread through close contact and proximity. It is expected that most of the genes and genomes would be similar or linked in a specific flyway since most ducks migrate within species and stay in relatively close proximity as they travel up and down the flyway. The reason the rate between contents are so low is because the only time the two birds are in contact during mating, this only happens in some species, or if a flock is blown off course by a strong trade wind.

Tags: Avian Influenza Virus, Waterfowl, Ducks, Atlantic Flyway

Monday, March 27, 2017

Is One Susceptible to Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, although the most common chronic musculoskeletal disorder, does not have enough information researched.

Susceptibility has been researched by the Laboratory for Bone and Joint Diseases in Japan. Osteoarthritis is a polygenic disease with a genetic component in which cartilage is progressively lost. Approximately fifty million people across the world are suffering from this disease. It causes pain and loss of joint function and there is no treatment. Among the genes found were ASPN, GDF5, and DWVA. Since I am interested in getting into Physical Therapy I am very intrigued with topic of osteoarthritis and the way the body can function after disease stricken. I believe finding the reason for osteoarthritis and being able to prevent it or even warn individuals would be wonderful for people struggling with the painful and at times debilitating disease.